pope-gay-civil-unions Pope Francis on Jan. 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines.
(Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

In a new documentary, Pope Francis solidified his support of same-sex civil unions.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in a new documentary film that debuted at the Rome Film Festival today. 

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Pope Francis spoke on the topic further and added that he has always supported gay rights.  “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered,” the Pope said, according to the Catholic News Agency. “I stood up for that.”

Members of the LGBTQ community praised the comments by Pope Francis. Gay rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano said the Pope’s remarks are a “monumental step” to recognizing that the LGBTQ community has every right to live as a family and have the same protections as everyone else. 

“This change shouldn’t just be in one person. It should permeate and reach every corner of the Catholic church to tear down the prejudices and discrimination that have hurt millions of LGBTTIQ+ people,” Serrano told The Americano. 

Serrano called on other Catholic church leaders to follow suit and declare they agree with the Pope and that gay people deserve equal rights. 

“It is time for the priests and leaders of the Catholic church in our homeland [Puerto Rico] to recognize that Pope Francis calls them to accept, respect and defend the families formed by LGBTTIQ+ people,” Serrano told The Americano. “It is time for the priest Carlos Pérez, the Bishop of Arecibo and other Catholics who have opposed LGBTTIQ+ rights to be tempered with the times and stop attacking and violating the dignity of LGBTTIQ+ people. It is time to show that love of neighbor is the maxim of their doctrine and put it into practice.”

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Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation President Alphonso David echoed Serrano’s statement and added that the Pope’s comments will help LGBTQ Catholics feel included in their religious family. 

“Many members of the LGBTQ community have had difficulty participating at places of worship because they have not been accepting of LGBTQ people. We are hopeful that this is another in a line of many actions toward full inclusion and acceptance for LGBTQ people in Catholicism, and in all faiths,” David told The Americano. 

To conservative Latinos who feel the Pope’s comments do not fall in line with biblical scripture, HRC Religion & Faith Director Michael Vazquez told The Americano, “It is important to note that the Bible doesn’t speak about civil unions or civil marriage laws.”

He added, “Instead, the Bible provides a framework for the possibilities of various forms of ethical relationships. The Pope’s statement endorsing civil unions for the LGBTQ community, and defending LGBTQ people’s right to a family comes from a Biblical understanding of what it means to uphold the dignity of every individual. While the Pope doesn’t go far enough, and we encourage him to defend our right to full marriage equality, this statement is a significant step forward and reflects the Bible’s ethic of justice and inclusion for all.”

The documentary titled “Francesco” will make its North American premiere on Sunday.

Check out the trailer below.